Tables can create communities and divide communities. At the centre of our church is a table. At the centre of Jesus' ministry was a table. Today we celebrated Back to Church Sunday. In this message Rev. Rob uses the symbol of a table to explain how Jesus envisaged an open and accepting community - the Kingdom of God. The church needs to be that place where no one is excluded but instead all may come and sit down in the presence of Christ.
“I tell you something greater than the temple is here.” Matthew 12:6
In our last instalment of "Playing with Fire," we examine how Jesus challenged the Jewish Temple establishment by predicting the temple's destruction and offering himself as an alternative. Jesus, NOT the temple, becomes the place of forgiveness and the dwelling place of God on earth.
Jesus boldly tampered with the long-held laws and customs found in Israel's cherished scriptures, the Torah. Rules about food purity, and laws about Sabbath observance were tossed aside by Jesus as he reinterpreted these commandments like some kind of "new Moses". This angered groups like the Pharisees who upheld Torah as a authentic way of life. But, even more than this, Jesus accomplishes what the Torah was supposed to do, but never could as he himself becomes the true presence of God in the midst of the people, bringing the light of God into the darkness of humankind.
Jesus played with fire when he redefined Israel's most sacred symbols and traditions. In the first sermon of this series we learn how Jesus dared to suggest that the new family he was creating around himself took precedence over the sacred Israelite symbol of family. Who is my true family? We might be shocked at Jesus' response.
In this second sermon in our Playing With Fire series, we learn how the sacred symbol of land, and the idea of "Holy Land" is irrelevant for Jesus and early Christians. If Jesus dared to ask his followers to release their most treasured possession (Land), what might he ask us to release? Is there anything we cling to that keeps us back from the Kingdom of God?
Canon Robert Hurkmans has been the minister at St. James and St. Brendan since 2006.